I love Christmas, but I hate the gift buying thing. I only buy for my immediate family – I don’t buy for work colleagues, friends or anyone who I won’t see on Christmas Day. It goes too far, causes too much stress and can cause money issues for people. Tis silly.
Instead of buying presents I much prefer to have everyone over before (and usually after) Christmas for a food and wine and have a lovely Christmas themed night. The thing is, no one wants to buy for a huge long list of people unless they’re crazy. they just don’t want to seem rude or tight. I let people know early on in the season my present-buying ethos, and if they tell me they desperately want to buy me a gift, fine, I’ll be flattered and I’ll buy them one. I actually enjoy trying to find the perfect present for a specific person – I just don’t like it when we end up buying crap gifts just for the sake of it.
I think a lot of people feel like this, hence the popularity of the awesome Secret Santa thing, although I don’t even think that’s necessary in many situations – for example, is it really necessary to buy presents for workmates if your office is huge and you don’t know half of them? Be brave and suggest going out for a few drinks after work as an alternative.
That’s not really why you’re here, though.
You came here to find out how to buy good presents on a low budget, so let’s get on to that.
I’m going to start with a few specific ideas, and then go on to explain a whole present buying system that takes a little more time than just buying one gift, but it can end up being super cheap but also a pretty awesome gift.
Presents for your mum/sister/friend
- A beauty box subscription – This one from Look Fantastic is awesome – the money comes out monthly too, so you can spread out your outgoings.
- Stationary – I know few women that don’t have a hankering over pretty stationary. Check out this cute cactus notebook, or this personalised stationary set. Etsy in general is amazing for cute stationary.
- Wine and chocolate – they’re cliches, but everyone loves ’em.
- High-end beauty samples – if you’re prepared you can collect these for free all year round from department stores, but Feel Unique do a thing where you can buy 5 samples for £3.95. Noice.
Presents for kids
Just head straight to Amazon. OMG they have everything at pretty low prices. Kids tend to go for quantity over quality so pick up a little box of Lego, a jigsaw, a cuddly toy, some crayons and a colouring book, some sweets and you’re golden.
Presents for men
Tbh put another, bigger, box of Lego in your Amazon basket and leave it there… Men are a nightmare to buy things for, unless they have a non-specific hobby like baking or drawing. Try a magazine subscription, or a fancier bottle of whiskey. I don’t get my boyfriend anything – I just take him shopping the sales, because I’m lazy and he always claims he doesn’t want anything.
As with buying for women – don’t be afraid of the cliches. Sure, pants, socks and Lynx are boring, but they’re also useful things to have.
Presents for families
- Amazon Prime – this is a great present because not only will it benefit the whole family, but it’s one of those rare gifts that most people can actively enjoy – free delivery for parents, music for older kids and Instant Video for younger kids. It’s one of those things that will save you money BUT the initial outlay may not be feasible, making it a great gift. £80 may seem like a lot, but if there are 4 people in the family then it’s only £20 per person and you don’t need to wrap it 😉
- Netflix – getting your family a year’s subscription is fairly cheap especially if you calculate cost-per-use, but is always really well-received.
- Board games – avoid Monopoly; we don’t want this to be the last Christmas everyone’s speaking to each other. Try Articulate, Trivial Pursuit or, if you’re brave, Cards Against Humanity.
My present buying system…
I give a shoebox filled with goodies to each person. That’s it. I start in September, buying little gifts for each person, and make sure that by December all the boxes are full. The hardest part is finding the actual boxes. Last year I went with these, but they’re rather flimsy, so it might be worth begging your local shoe shop for some old boxes. I’m thinking of trying these cardboard boxes this time.
There are a billion different things you could put in these. Seriously. I’m going to jot down some of the things I’ve put in them in the past, and you can pic and choose depending on budget etc.
Ideas for shoe boxes:
- Homemade granola (I put it in these jars)
- Tea strainers – weird but cute, plus you can pop some tea in too.
- Skin care – this Superdrug hot cloth cleanser and this serum are awesome
- Colouring books and pens
- Food – spices, fancy salts, coffee…TK Maxx has an awesome selection
- Gloves & socks
- Little boxes of lego
- Hair clips & bobbles
- Kitchen utensils like this espresso maker
- Fairy lights
Seriously, so many possibilities for this one. I tend to make a list of a few things for everyone, and do an online shop, then pick up bits and pieces as I go. I tend to budget around £30 per person, but obviously, you can set whatever budget you like.
I’ll probably add to this as I think of things, but I’ll leave it there for now. my biggest tip for preparing for Christmas is start now. I don’t care if you’re reading this in February – make your present list now and get buying, and then when Christmas rolls around you can enjoy it without all the last minture, present buying panic.